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Follow the grapes not the brands

By Tuesday 2 April 2024No Comments

It was really good to see you earlier this month and catch up on all the news.

Something you said has been going around my head since – it was your prediction that most wine brands would survive the downturn.

I couldn’t put my finger on why it bothered me at the time, but on reflection, I’ve realised now.

During a downturn, or even a once-in-fifty-year crisis, a lot of brands can simply retreat, consolidate and effectively hibernate through the economic winter until better days come again.

Like a gum tree during a drought that drops its branches, the gum survives, but sacrifices its branches to do so.

Looking at which brands survive is the wrong metric to measure the impact of the crisis, it’s like looking at how many gums survive a drought without counting the dead branches on the ground.

In wine terms those branches are primarily the grapegrowers, and to an extent the processing facilities, but wineries can be run on a reduced workforce, vineyards can’t.

The question to be asking any wineries you speak to, especially the larger ones, isn’t “how are your brands doing?” but “how are your growers doing?”

They say a detective should follow the money, but in this case I’d say follow the grapes.

Anyway, just my two cent follow-up on a very enjoyable lunch.

First published in our weekly newsletter The Week That Was.

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